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Middletown churches learn how to better secure their buildings

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 3:49 PM

Lt. David Birk of the Middletown Division of Police addressed members of the church community Friday afternoon to discuss ways to better secure their buildings. Detective Brandon Highley and Sgt. Sam Allen also spoke. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Lt. David Birk of the Middletown Division of Police addressed members of the church community Friday afternoon to discuss ways to better secure their buildings. Detective Brandon Highley and Sgt. Sam Allen also spoke. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Pastors said after meeting with representatives from the Middletown Division of Police they left better prepared in case an active shooter enters their church.

The meeting between the police and church leaders was arranged by Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw on the heels of the Texas church shooting on Nov. 5 that left 26 people dead and 20 injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history.

During the 90-minute seminar Friday in Council Chambers, Lt. David Birk, Detective Brandon Highley and Sgt. Sam Allen discussed ways for churches to better secure their buildings and protect their congregates.

“It’s real out there,” Birk told this newspaper after the meeting that drew about 70 church leaders. “They need to be prepared. It’s about taking steps to save lives.”

Grace Baptist Church in Middletown already has taken some steps, said Senior Pastor Max Fernandez. He said the church has hired an off-duty Middletown police officer to monitor the parking lot and inside the church building every Sunday morning. The officer also assists with traffic, he said.

Middletown host active shooter training for police

RELATED: Butler County pastors, police urge churches to create safety plan

The church also has a “safety plan” that Fernandez said he would review with church leaders and members, based off the information he learned at the seminar. The end result is finding the best way to “better protect” the members, the pastor said.

After the Texas shooting, church members gathered and prayed for those impacted, Fernandez said.

MORE: Trump says Texas church shooting result of ‘mental health problem,’ not guns

“It’s natural to have fear and to think about the vulnerability of your congregation to an active shooter,” he said.

Until recently, before the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 that killed nine people, churches were considered to be a “safety zone, said Allen, who said it was important for people to feel secure at church.

Muterspaw said the church shootings have been committed by the “wrong person with wrong attitude.”

Years ago, during an active shooting, police didn’t enter the building until at least four officers were present. But now the first officer is instructed to find and apprehend the suspect.

“Waiting is costing lives,” Allen said.

The church leaders were told to:
  • Teach staff and members the proper way to apprehend a shooter and secure his weapon. Without training, employees may “freeze up” during an attack, Highley said.
  • Find ways to secure doors, whether that’s with bars, locks, belts or heavy furniture.
  • Instruct those under attack to run to the nearest exit and not hide in a corner or under desks. “The threat has changed,” Birk said.
  • Create a “rally point” for congregates to meet after they escape an active shooter. They recommended neighboring churches sharing keys to their buildings, if possible.
  • Put letters or numbers on every exterior door to make it easier for law enforcement to understand the layout of the building.
  • Limit the number of entrances into a church so it’s easier to monitor who’s coming into the building.

All lanes of I-75 North open after multiple crashes near Tipp City

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 12:35 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 7:06 AM

SCENE: Multiple crashes on NB I-75 in Tipp City

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic .

Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and News 95.7 FM.

Major Highway Incidents

  • On NB I-75 in Tipp City north of SR 571, four separate crashes reported around 5:30 a.m. All lanes reopened around 7 a.m. 

Surface Street Incidents

  • No incidents to report. 

>> RELATED: WHIO App-Winter

>> RELATED: Check for delays or cancellations before heading to the airport

>> RELATED: Track the latest conditions in your neighborhood on our live WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Ongoing Construction & Other Closures 

Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.

Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map. 


  • Keowee Street north of Stanley Avenue, bridge closed until 2019. The official detour is: Keowee Street to Stanley Avenue to I-75 to Wagner Ford Road and back to Dixie. More information is available here.
  • Stewart Street Ramp to US 35 East, RAMP CLOSURE March 28 - Sept 30, 2018. The official detour is: Stewart Street to Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to I-75 north to US 35 west to James H. McGee Blvd. to US 35 east.
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west and east, Lane width restriction until Apr. 1, 2018. One lane will remain open on the ramp with a width of 11 feet.
  • I-70 between Upper Lewisburg Salem Road and Brooksville-Phillipsburg Road, Lane closure Jan. 22 - 29. One lane will remain open in each direction at all times. Shoulder closures Jan. 22 - Sept. 30. Both the inside and outside shoulders of I-70 will be closed during construction. 

Tsunami warning issued after 7.9 magnitude earthquake off coast of Alaska

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 5:02 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 6:55 AM

A tsunami warning is in effect after a preliminary 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck  173 miles southeast of Kodiak, Alaska.

>> THE LATEST: Officials tell residents to seek higher ground amid tsunami warning

UPDATE @ 6:55 a.m. 

The Kodiak Police Department reports water has started to recede from their harbor, and are urging residents to move to higher ground and wait for updates, according to a Facebook post. 

 Police also posted a video about 5:40 a.m. Eastern Time, warning residents a tsunami could be on the way. 

The tsunami watch, issued for parts of the Hawaii has been cancelled, but remains in effect Oregon, California, and Washington.  


The earthquake was at a depth of 15 miles. There have been nine aftershocks, from 3.1 to 5.0 magnitude.

The Oregon, California and Washington coasts are under a tsunami watch.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

According to the National Weather Service, the first waves should arrive around 2 a.m. local time (6 a.m. Eastern Time). Residents are being told to seek higher ground.

The National Weather Service tweeted that a buoy just northeast of the epicenter recorded a water displacement of 32 feet.

This story will be updated as we learn additional details.

Migos and their fans want the group cast as hyenas in ‘Lion King’ remake

Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 11:20 PM

Quavo (middle) of rap trio Migos (pictured) wants Disney to cast the group as the hyenas in the remake of
Quavo (middle) of rap trio Migos (pictured) wants Disney to cast the group as the hyenas in the remake of "The Lion King."(Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET/Getty Images for BET)

The rap trio Migos wants to put its stamp on the highly-anticipated remake of “The Lion King.”

On Sunday, Migos member Quavo posted his plea for the trio to make their Hollywood debut in the upcoming live-action remake, which already has an all-star cast including Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Alfree Woodard and Keegan-Michael Key.

Related: Disney confirms Beyonce, Donald Glover, more for ‘The Lion King’ in 2019

“Call us,” Quavo tweeted to Disney about the group playing the three hyenas.

>> Read more trending news

One problem, though. Key, comedian Eric Andre and actress Florence Kasumba have already been cast as hyenas in the new film, slated to premiere July 19, 2019.

The group’s fans were on board.

Twitter users offered numerous examples of how the group’s signature phraseology would fit right into the “Lion King” script.

As with many social media campaigns, Migos didn’t quite have everyone on board for the possibility of the group members playing the hyenas, partially because the parts were already cast to begin with.

Migos producer arrested, accused of driving 125 mph on Georgia freeway

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 5:51 AM

Pierre “Pee” Thomas, a producer credited for starting the careers of Migos, Lil Yachty and others, was arrested for reckless driving by Alpharetta police. (Credit: Alpharetta DPS via
Alpharetta DPS via
Pierre “Pee” Thomas, a producer credited for starting the careers of Migos, Lil Yachty and others, was arrested for reckless driving by Alpharetta police. (Credit: Alpharetta DPS via DPS via

A record label co-owner and producer credited with the speedy success of Atlanta-based Migos is facing charges after his alleged speed behind the wheel caught the attention of Alpharetta, Georgia, police.

>> Watch the news report here

Dashcam video obtained by WSB-TV’s Mike Petchenik shows officers pulling over Pierre “Pee” Thomas last Sunday. Thomas, the chief executive of record label Quality Control, has produced records for rappers such as Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby and Rich the Kid.

The officer "observed a red SUV traveling at a high rate of speed,” said Officer Jason Muenzer. “He noticed the vehicle was going about 100 mph.”

Muenzer said the officer got on Ga. 400 near Old Milton Parkway and began following Thomas north.

“That officer tried to catch up to the vehicle, but he himself got up to about 120, 125 (mph) and even then, the officer noticed the vehicle was pulling away from him.”

Eventually, video shows Thomas pull over off McFarland Parkway in Forsyth County.

He told officers he was heading home from the studio.

>> Read more trending news 

“When the officer approached the vehicle, the driver acted as though he didn’t see the officer,” Muenzer said. “The only excuse he had was he didn’t see the officer and he wanted to get home.”

On the dashcam video, the officer questioned Thomas and his speed.

“What were you doing going that fast, man?” he can be heard asking. “You were pulling away from me. I was doing 120 (mph) just trying to catch up to you. You were pulling away from me.”

Officers would later handcuff Thomas and take him to the North Fulton Jail annex on reckless driving charges.

Police told Petchenik this arrest was just one of a series recently on the busy highway.

“It’s getting old,” Muenzer said. “Those speeds, the slightest crack, the slightest item in the roadway, road debris, you can lose control of your vehicle.”

Thomas’ attorney, Drew Findling, told Petchenik that his client was not impaired and complied with officers.

“We will go to court in the city of Alpharetta and look forward to putting this matter behind him,” Findling said. “We will resolve it in court.”

– The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.